etc...

YOU CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL

About 2,000 ballet fans were evacuated from London's prestigious Royal Opera House when an exploding baked potato triggered a fire alarm. After searching, firefighters found its splattered remains inside a microwave oven backstage, and 20 minutes later, the audience was allowed back into the building. Not surprisingly, "no one claimed ownership of the potato," a fire brigade spokesman said.

THERE'S ALWAYS STARBUCKS

Speaking of Britain, for almost a decade, the Cambridge University computer lab's coffee-maker was the most famous appliance in cyberspace. Millions of visitors hopped online at all hours to check, via webcam, how much joe was left. But last week, tekkies finally unplugged it - after turning a profit that any dot.com would envy. Spiegel Online of Germany paid $4,750 for it on eBay. (Original cost: $70.) A closed-circuit camera was trained on the thing in 1991 to save staff from trudging to the lab only to find it empty. It became a webcam a year later.

Denver, considered a cowtown in the Wild West era, has been rated the best city for dogs and cats among the 50 largest in the US in a Ralston Purina Pet Institute study. The study examined such factors as the ratio of veterinarians to registered pets, air and water quality, animal cruelty laws, and even the incidence of fleas. Denver received a $10,000 prize, which will go to its animal shelters. The runner- up was Minneapolis, which has the highest annual spending on pets per household at $416 - $2 higher than Denver. The 10 best cities for pets, according to Ralston Purina's study:

1. Denver

2. Minneapolis

3. Columbus, Ohio

4. Philadelphia

5. Seattle

6. Portland, Ore.

7. Washington

8. San Francisco

9. Phoenix

10. Hartford, Conn.

- PR Newswire

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